By any name, writers as a group have encountered no enemy quite so intractable as the enemy of mathematics. Writers don’t understand numbers. We don’t trust them. Nonetheless, mathematics is part of life, and we must learn to accept the things we can’t change. As if the numbers themselves weren’t confusing enough, there are two ways to shorten mathematics—as math and as maths. Luckily, we writers like words, and we can handle simple dilemmas such as this one. Both of these terms are correct. If you don’t know when to choose math or maths, you aren’t alone. Continue reading to discover the proper usage cases for each of these words.
In this article, I will compare math vs. maths. I will use each of these spellings in at least one example sentence, so you can see them in context. Plus, I will show you a useful mnemonic that will help you next time you need to choose either maths or math.
The word mathematics originated from late 16th century: plural of obsolete mathematic ‘mathematics’, from Old French mathematique, from Latin (ars) mathematica ‘mathematical (art)’, from Greek mathēmatikē (tekhnē), from the base of manthanein ‘learn’. The abbreviation maths originated in 19th century.
Math as noun:
Math is an abbreviation of mathematics which is the abstract science of number, quantity, and space, either as abstract concepts (pure mathematics), or as applied to other disciplines such as physics and engineering (applied mathematics).
James has a taste for math.
Use of maths:
Maths is the abbreviation of mathematics that is commonly used in British English. It is common to see maths is British publications. If you are a Brit or are writing for British people, you should always add an s to the abbreviation.
Use of math:
Math is the predominant form of this word in American English and is common in American and Canadian publications. If your audience is American/Canadian population, you should never add an s to the abbreviation math.
Math or maths:
Both maths and math are shortened forms of the word mathematics, which is the study of number, quantity, and space. Math is the American variant. Maths is the British variant. Luckily, there is a very easy way to remember maths vs. math. Maths ends in the letter S, just like the river Thames in England. If you can link this bit of British geography to the British word maths, you should have no trouble remembering the usage cases for these variants.